a labor of love

A week ago if you would have told me that I could get my old My Little Ponies looking like almost new again, I would have scoffed at you. Their poor manes have seen two decades of abuse imaginative play by children.

I like to think that I took really good care of them, and that the combination between the kids my mom babysat PLUS the years they spent at my mom's office after that for children of clients really did them in. Regardless of how it happened, when I decided to gift these to Blythe as her "something to play with" this year for Christmas, I was not expecting to see THIS atrocity of FRIZZ when I opened the box my mom dropped off:

Yikes. They were also pretty nasty. Grubby little hands had been galloping them around far too long. It took about one clorox wipe per pony to really get them clean.

That grosses me out.

But back to the frizz.

I couldn't pass these along to Blythe in good conscience knowing their true beauty could possibly be restored somehow. So I took to Pinterest. I found several different pins, and they all had their own variations of the process, but all of them basically said: DIP THEM IN DOWNY!

I browsed through several tutorials, picking and choosing what I thought sounded like it would work the best, and now I bring it to you! If you have some Ponies that need a little love, give it a try. I was amazed with the results.

Here it goes:
Also, can I add that Brent thought this was a little ridiculous? It was not. It was awesome. And it was as if I had the perfect excuse to play interact with the My Little Ponies again. Bliss. 

What you will need:
Fabric Softener 
[I used Downy because that is what all the tutorials used, but I think any generic would be fine. And I will add here: this is the first time I've ever used fabric softener.]
A dish/bowl
A fine tooth comb 
[your husband's beard brush will work just fine]
A few crayons and bobby pins
A frizzy haired, well-loved Pony
[best if circa early 1990's, late 1980's…have you seen the new ones? Creepy. And expensive. So get to garage sales for the good ones while you still can and get out your Downy! Nobody wants to see those new Ponies taking over]
[not pictured] A towel and a small amount of patience

The procedure is pretty simple. Mix roughly equal amounts of water and fabric softener and stir to combine. I mixed about a cup of each and it was plenty for all my ponies! So if you get a huge container of fabric softener and you're like me and never use it, invite your friends and their frizzed out ponies over!

Then simply dunk tail or mane into the mixture. It doesn't need to soak or anything, just needs to be completely saturated. I was very careful not to get the liquid too close to the body of the pony, as you really don't want water getting inside. Just work the mixture up towards the body or head with your fingers.

I was especially careful with this one because she makes noise when you press the hearts on her flanks! She neighs and then makes a galloping sound that fades into the distance. I loved playing with her when I was younger…when I was by myself, that is. My sister rarely let me push the button because, "Kelsey, those batteries won't last forever and won't you be sad when it doesn't work anymore?" So she rationed my button pushing. Yes, I was the youngest child. And yes, the button still works to this day. I sent her a video of the sound when I was sorting through them and her response? "You're welcome. My gift to your children." 

Once you've dunked the part you're going to work with, lightly squeeze out any excess with your fingers. 

Next, lay the pony on a flat surface and work your comb through starting at the ends. I found if I started next the body, it was very difficult to work out tangles. For the ponies that were worse for wear, I had to rip pretty hard through the hair, but I have curly hair so I'm used to not being gentle with hair myself.

[note: the pink pony was the frizziest hair I tackled, and I remembered that she had very curly hair when I got her. She yielded the least satisfying results, but still showed improvement. She also had her hair braided when I found her in the box, so there's a good chance it was braided for two decades. Also, the rubberband holding it together disintegrated upon my touch. So there's that. ]

As you work the tangles and frizz out, I found that I needed to very slightly trim the ends when I was finished on a few of them. Barely anything, but just enough to even it up.

There were a lot of varying opinions about this next step, but I tried both ways and liked the rinse better. So once you have worked through the mane and the tail, run it carefully under some warm water. Don't worry about totally rinsing out the softener; I think you want a little to remain for "hold".  Again be careful not to let water enter the pony. Gently squeeze out excess with your fingers and run the comb through one last time.

Here is the part where Brent made a lot of fun of me, but I think it's a crucial step: carefully wrap the mane and tail around a crayon, and secure with a bobby pin. Then set aside to dry. I tried just wrapping the tail around the legs a bit, or curling it a little with my fingers, but it still would dry too straight and hang limply. When you get new My Little Ponies they always have some bounce and curl to their hair, and if left straight the manes and tails are far too long for their bodies. This was the best method I found to get that body back!

You can see in the bottom left of this picture the excess hair I trimmed from a few. This is ALL the hair I trimmed from all of the ponies pictured, so when I say you don't trim much, you really don't trim much. 
Find a good location to hid them from your two year old while you are working on them if you plan on gifting them to her for Christmas :). For me, I stuck them on the top shelf of my pantry because, as you can see, I desperately needed to go to the store but the extra shelf space worked lovely as a pony salon. 

yes, all I had left was cornbread mix, pancake mix, and a few crackers. It was sad. Don't worry, I made it to the store last night…and promptly realized I had forgotten my wallet…at home…20 minutes away. The girls were asleep so Brent couldn't leave, but my mom came to my rescue because I think she had seen the sad state of this pantry and knew I really needed to get some groceries. She could also maybe tell I was on the verge of a mal-nutrional breakdown because I hadn't had a vegetable in a few days. Suffice it to say, the ponies had to be relocated and my husband and children are eating well again. 

Once the hair is dry [or mostly dry], remove the "curlers" and "adjust" hair to your suiting. Here are some of the AFTER shots of the ponies I was working with.

The pink one, like I mentioned, was the least effective in terms of really looking like a new pony, but compared the the haggard creature I began with I think she looks pretty incredible! [And smells awesome! That Downy!] Also, she makes sound so she'll be stiff competition as a favorite around here.

I forgot to take many before and afters, but here is a good one that shows you this process really works:

Isn't that incredible?! Also, Brent laughed when I told him this was one of the few "male" ponies I had. "Her hair is purple and pink, and she is turquoise!" No, Brent. HE is GREEN and has a SAILBOAT. Clearly a boy. He also had a sailor's hat that fit over his ears. Mom, you think you have that somewhere?  [cough* cough* I just googled it: This one and the purple one pictured above with the white pony were 1985-1986 "BIG BROTHER Ponies" There names were "Salty" and "Slugger." SEE!!! I also just discovered some of these are worth some money. I better keep my doors locked.]

However, if one day someone were to ask me what one of my biggest accomplishments in life was, I would respond, "The bird."  This was her tail to begin with:

I didn't even get a great picture, but you can tell that is one hot mess. My mom actually said she almost pitched that thing several times.

Well, one Downy dunk later…

It's incredible, really. I did have to work on that tail for awhile [probably ten minutes], but it was rewarding!

Are you clapping? Oh please, that's unnecessary.

I just have to get to the mini ones next!

Let me know if you try this out! I'm also anxious to see if it works on Barbies because my 1990 Totally Hair Barbie could really use some love. And that may just be Blythe's birthday present….

yes, the Christmas one was my favorite. I named her "Ginger" which was the pretend name reserved for my favorites.

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Hannah said...

My Little Ponies! I LOVED playing with my ponies!! Sadly, I don't think they are still hanging around my parents house. Maybe I should as my mom... I love that you were able to fix their hair - it looks amazing! And I now want to play with some of them. Lucky Blythe! Oh, and that new My Little Pony -just no. It's wrong on so many levels.

*carrie* said...

HILARIOUS! Makes me laugh, especially with your play-by-play.

I wonder where our ponies are--will have to ask my sister. I'm pretty sure we didn't get rid of them. Not sure I would go to all the trouble you did, but it was quite the transformation! Good job.

I've been hanging on to my case of Barbies and haven't decided when to give it to Natalie.